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"A Rockhoof and a Hard Place" Review: Shattered Past · 3:43am Sep 16th, 2018

The Pillars of Equestria finally returned! This week's episode finally let us see Rockhoof, Flash Magnus, Mistmane, Somnambula and Mage Meadowbrook again and find out what they are doing today, after having come into the future! And the episode even started right in Rockhoof's old village, which we still know as the dig site that we've seen in "Shadow Play". Sadly, Petunia Paleo was nowhere to be seen this time.....
The start of the episode also brought the first question up in me already:

Why was Rockhoof's village abandoned or when did it get destroyed?

Rockhoof was talking about it that Professor Fossil and her team were busy digging up his village, which means, it ended up under the ground somehow. Does this mean the citizens of it fell victim to a natural disaster, something that transported the village under the ground or buried it under masses of soil?
Or maybe the volcano in Rockhoof's village erupted again and the lava of it buried the village and all the citizens under it because Rockhoof wasn't there to save it after he sacrificed himself to banish the Pony of Shadows?
This would be the most tragic outcome of how his village got destroyed, as he would have to live with the guilt of not having been able to save it then.
But whatever it is, this episode showed that Rockhoof misses his village and his life in the past a lot. He even went to the dig site where his village was just so he could be near it, enjoy the memories there and help digging it up.
Unfortunately, Professor Fossil wasn't very approving of him being there and still using the things and houses in it like he used to back in the days, so she sent him away after asking Twilight if she would accept Rockhoof as a teacher at her school.
Which brings me to my next thought..... Rockhoof is the only one who is left of his village, the sole survivor of it. The entire village and everything in it is his heritage. With the only one of his people who is still alive, the village is something that should belong to him..... Yet Professor Fossil could send him away from it and even had the (legal?) authority to deny him using the things they found in the village, even though that is technically all his?
This makes me wonder how laws in Equestria look in this regards..... Since Rockhoof's village is abandoned for at least a few hundred years now, it means that the land it is located on doesn't belong to anyone anymore. Which should not make it an issue for him to reclaim it and keep living there, yet, this doesn't seem to be possible for him to do.
I doubt that Equestria, as the progressive and good-natured place we've came to know it, has no proper laws in place that guarantee that a native can claim the lands of their ancestors for himself. And especially Celestia and Luna wouldn't deny Rockhoof to keep his village.
So, the only thing that can make all of this possible, is that someone bought Rockhoof's village at some point, perhaps even for the specific purpose of archeological digging there, and that is why Rockhoof can't simply claim the village as his.
Which is something I hope can clear up for him. I hope that, eventually, Celestia and Luna can perhaps buy the village back from whoever owns it and give it back to Rockhoof. The village is the only thing that is left of Rockhoof's old life, of his family and friends, so the only right thing would be to return it to him.

After this start, the episode progresses with Rockhoof trying many different things to fit into modern Equestria and find a purpose there. First he tried his luck as teacher at Twilight's school, which made Yona quickly become a fan and admirer of him, then he tried it as mailpony, massagist, Zecora's assistant and even crew member on one of the ships of the Royal Hippogriff Navy. Attempts that all failed, as he damaged the school, revealed secrets of customers, almost broke Snowflake's back, collected much more ingredients for Zecora than she needed and even sunk one of the hippogriff's ships.
After this, Twilight decided to visit the other pillars, in hopes that they could show Rockhoof how to adjust to modern Equestria and we saw what they had started to do since their return; with Flash Magnus now drill sergeant for Canterlot's royal guard, Mistmane being the royal landscape artist of the Crystal Empire, Somnambula a motivational trainer in her hometown and Mage Meadowbrook brewing healing potions as usual, although, at a much larger scale than before.
None of these professions seemed to be the right one for Rockhoof, though, so he decided to give up and asked Twilight to use a spell to encase him in stone, so he could be used as a museum exhibit. MLP: FiM is getting quite mature with this again, as Rockhoof was essentially contemplating suicide here as being kept in stasis forever, while technically not being dead, amounts to the same in the end.
Rockhoof wanted to end his life there, quite literally, as being encased in stone means that you can't do anything with your life anymore.
This is the second time that MLP: FiM dealt with the topic of suicide and it was much more straightforward and tragic this time than it was in "No Second Prances" during Season 6.

What I like most in this episode is the little, but important, role Yona has in it. Every bigger role of one of the Student Six is good in my book, so seeing Yona's adoration for Rockhoof and how she tried to cheer him up and prevent him from letting himself getting encased in stone was very welcome!

Lastly, this episode also showed something mysterious that got me thinking..... The last time we have seen General Seaspray was in "School Daze" and when we saw him again in this episode, he was not only commandeering an entire ship, he also had three scars in his face; one under each of his eyes and another one on his forehead.
This makes it look like a lot has happened since we saw him last, which probably includes the entire establishment of the hippogriff navy. I'm wondering what it is exactly that happened there, was Mount Aris perhaps in some danger and General Seaspray fought to protect it and that's where he got these scars?
In any case, this demonstrates nicely what we already heard in "Non-Compete Clause", that nine months have passed already since Twilight opened her friendship school. With possibly a few more months since the events seen in this episode, it is very apparent how much time has passed seeing that the hippogriffs have a royal navy now and how Flash Magnus, Mistmane, Somnambula and Mage Meadowbrook started their new lives.
We definitely have the record for the season with the longest span of events ever here!

And that's it for this week! Episode 21 has aired and we have only five episodes ahead of us anymore before Season 8 concludes. See you next week!

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